An Ending And A Beginning

I haven’t properly written for a little while, my head’s not really been in the right space for it. I’ve coped okay with lockdown, I’m kinda. built for it really, but I was never furloughed, and my job in the USW Accommodation Admin Team trucked on from home, and indeed ramped up.

I started working for the University of South Wales almost ten years ago. I was the admin for the DEHOV project, an EU funded program offering training in Office, Adobe and such to self-employed people and small businesses. I then moved to a similar project called CiDS, which focussed on creatives, and when that projects funding ceased, I was re-deployed, and ended up as an admin for the university’s Accommodation Team. My plan was to stay for about 6 months, and try and find teaching roles or graphic roles within the Uni, or elsewhere if need be.

I ended up staying for five years. A big part of me staying that long were the team I worked with – my manager Claire, and my workmates Jayne and Beth never failed to make me laugh, and bring a smile to my face, and I almost always enjoyed going to work, and the office camaraderie was excellent. I got on well with the other parts of the accommodation team – Babs on the operation side of things is an absolute riot, and I got on very well with Sue and Rod from the duty managers team, but I was very lucky to gel well with the whole team, regardless of how often I saw some of them. It was a genuine pleasure to be there, and I hope to stay in touch with them after I leave.

The work itself was mostly straightforward enough – booking students rooms, answering queries, issuing contracts, yadda yadda. Stuff I could do well, but not something I particularly wanted to do forever. I did do some part-time teaching as an hourly paid lecturer for the university, so I kept my hand in there in that respect. I also got to learn a lot about the Mercury residential management system, a pretty versatile system that has lots of untapped potential within the university really, but needs a lot of learning to really get under it’s hood.

The students made the job varied. Next to the News-Examiner in Indiana, probably the craziest place I’ve worked. Students accidentally driving cars over embankments into a residential block, student’s parents and delivery drivers reversing into the office building, 6am fire drills bringing out the more verbally-abusive end of the kids, random adopted stray cats, strange leftover possessions, an 18 year girl literally jumping up and down having a tantrum in the office, random overseas arrivals with no forewarning, students buttering staircases… just a whole slew of weird and wacky events and stories to keep staff on their toes. Just madness a lot of the time!

My wife had spotted a Digital Skills Developer job at the nearby Cardiff Metropolitan University, and it sounded interesting, so I applied, not thinking I’d get it. I did make it to the interview stage, but I was right – I didn’t get it. So I remained where I was in Accommodation – at that point the pandemic had happened, and the admin team had all worked hard from home since March of 2020. The workload had increased trying to keep on top of everything, and it’s not been easy, but it will ease as time goes on and a new normal emerges. Then, Cardiff Met emailed me out of the blue – they’d instated a second Digital Skills position, and I was offered first refusal. This put me in a bit of a quandary.

It was better pay, but not permanent. The work was more along what I want to do, but it meant leaving my current workmates in the lurch. After lots of discussion with my wife and several of my friends, and weighing up lots of things, I decided to take the plunge and accept the job change. The Met were gracious enough to allow me to work 6 weeks leave instead of 4, to try and give me time to deal with a room allocation push and to try and document what I could for my USW friends.

So now it’s a scary but exciting change, an end to my time with USW that’s been almost a quarter of my life. I hope I can impress my new employer, and my new workmates, hopefully enough to justify keeping me on the Mets books after this two year contract ends. Time to see how it pans out!

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